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22 May is honoured by many as the birthday of Harvey Milk, a popular and respected politician who became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office. Today his birth and life is honoured by celebrating the work of six great leaders of the queer community.
Harvey Milk famously said, ‘If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.’
This would come to be something of a prophecy for San Francisco politician as he was later gunned down, along with Mayor Moscone, by the infamous Dan White in 1978.
Since Milk’s death his birthday (today) has come to be known as a time for honouring leaders of the LGBT community, who are given plaques along a section of the Harvey Milk Park, known as Equality Plaza.
The six recipients of this prestigious honour were:
Donald Snow – A respected HIV/AIDS activist who operated in the 1980s and 1990s and sadly passed away in 1993 at the age of 39.
Ernie Villa – A veteran of the Vietnam war who worked to preserve the historical Wilmore District in San Francisco for its significance to the queer community.
Larry Forester – The Vice Mayor of Signal Hill an out and proud gay man and a long time politician following his diagnosis with HIV in 1985.
Margo Martinez – An HIV/AIDS activist in the 1980s who was dedicated to offering help to people who couldn’t get it at that time
Vanessa Romain – A long-time veteran of Long Beach Pride being involved with it for 29 years and as a member of its board for 27 years.
Carlos De Avila – A founding member of the Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Centre and an early gay rights activist who playfully referred to himself as ‘The Fabulous Faggot on Funky Fourth Street’.
Had Milk not been assassinated, today would have marked Milk’s 84th birthday. It is a privilege to see that his legacy continues to be honoured by the city and the people to whom he dedicated his life and career.